The nuclear envelope (NE) breaks down reversibly and reassembles at mitosis. Two models of mitotic nuclear membrane disassembly and reformation have emerged from studies of NE dynamics in somatic cells and egg extracts. One model suggests that nuclear membranes fragment reversibly by vesiculation, producing NE-derived vesicles separate from the endoplasmic reticulum. The second model proposes that nuclear membranes vanish by diffusion of their integral proteins through a continuous endoplasmic reticulum. Here, we discuss critically the grounds for the elaboration of these apparently mutually exclusive views. Our conclusions favour a model in which nuclear membranes do not vesiculate during mitosis.